Ask a Designer

Our Creative Services designers work with Volusion merchants every day, and they receive endless questions about best practices for ecommerce sites. In an effort to extend their expertise and prepare merchants for the busy holiday season, they’ve answered the three most common questions they receive about design.

How important is it for me to get professional photography for my website?

Great photos allow visitors to view your products in the best light and will entice them to make a purchase. As a web designer, the quality of product photos I’m working with can often make or break the look of a website. So, good photography is an essential element to focus on when selling online.

That being said, you may not need a professional photographer if that isn’t in your current budget. I recommend researching how to take quality photos from your personal camera or smartphone. And get creative with the types of photos you take! For example, products shot on a white background are classic, and create a consistent look on your category pages. But, for other areas, like your homepage or other marketing graphics, try capturing your products being used by a people or in a stylish setting. Lifestyle shots like these help shoppers envision your products in their own lives. Check out the following two examples for inspiration:

Pillow Decor takes photos of each of their decorative throw pillows on a white background and makes sure all of their product photos are consistent in size and proportions. The results are great-looking category pages that are easy to shop.

Pillow Decor Products

Evutec uses lifestyle shots of their phone cases on the homepage. This helps customers better relate to the products and creates a more compelling shopping experience.

Check out our blog post for more in-depth information on professional photos versus DIY photography.


How can I prepare to work with a designer/on a new design project?

Making an investment in the design of your website is a great step toward creating a professional brand for your business. It’s important to treat the process like a partnership with an expert, rather than a hands-off experience like placing an order. Designers understand the best practices for websites, and our goal is to help you be more successful online. In the design process, we ask for information about your target audience and details about your marketing goals. After taking in this information, our job is to create a beautiful digital experience that will best serve your customers and help you convert more visitors.

The best thing you can do to prepare for a design project is to gather relevant information and resources that your designer will need to create the right solution for your business. Here are a few major points to consider that will put you on the right track:

  • Identify and analyze your target audience. Who buys your products? What needs do your products fulfill?
  • Think about your brand voice. Is it playful and fun? Serious? Sophisticated? Creating a clear voice for your brand helps your designer understand the look and feel your website should give customers.
  • Research your major competitors and make notes about what contributes to their success. Then, find an aspect of your business that sets you apart from them. Identifying your niche will help guide the message you want to convey through your design.
Last but not least, go into the design process with an open mind and ready to discuss your goals and needs. Your designer will appreciate the clear direction, and will use it to create a beautiful design that effectively speaks to your shoppers.


How many slideshow slides should I use on my homepage? What kind of content should I have in my slideshow?

The answer depends on what you want to communicate and how customers typically shop on your site. Slideshows can be a great way to showcase multiple product photos or collections, especially in industries that sell fashion or consumer products. However, a slideshow doesn’t work for every store. For example, visitors to an auto parts site aren’t necessarily interested in seeing a slideshow when they land on the homepage. These customers will rely more on navigation or search to quickly find an item they are looking for. In this instance, a slideshow would be a waste of real estate that might be better used on a prominent search bar.

User research has shown that most people don’t even stick around to see or click on slides past the first one. If you do include a slideshow on your homepage, don’t put essential information on any slides after the first. And save yourself the load time and keep the number of slides to 3 or less.

Uno Magnetic Jewelry uses a 3 slide slideshow to show off their beautiful photography and focus on a few collections.
uno magnetic


Rather than using a slideshow, Boat Lift & Canopy has just one graphic with a call to action encouraging visitors to start shopping their boat lift canopies.
boat lift

Do you have questions about web design you would like to ask our design team? Post them in the comments!